Ah, April. Almost time to begin visiting other gardeners’ dreams come to life. Minding your manners when visiting another’s garden should come naturally to gardeners. After all, garden etiquette is mostly common sense and since we are gardeners, we understand our host and their unstated considerations. But, just in case one or two (four or five?) behaviors need reminders or updating.
Allow me to rant
Remember when you were young, all excited, and headed out the door for a social event such as a birthday party, or dinner at a friend’s house? As you went out the door Mom had a few last-minute words for your such as” Remember to mind your manners, Young Lady (or Young Man). Perhaps it was something like “Be on your best behavior” or something close to those words. If no one ever said anything similar to you that is another story for another time and far too late in life to read any further here.
Be where you are. If you must, ask permission before taking photos of the plants or garden, or other gardeners. Perhaps not everyone wants to be on your social media sites.
The last lady wearing high heels while touring my garden found herself becoming a groundcover on and around my Arisaema. She was quite graceful in her movement from a sudden 60s dance of the Twist to a flying leap from the path to a garden bed. She managed to crush a colony of plants appropriately named Whiplash Lilies while covering the surrounding area. However, the green stains on her white blouse did not go well with her red face.
No, I do not close my garden and ‘cottage’ to spend the winter in Florida or Arizona. This is my home. Speaking of, no, only one bathroom is available in the greenhouse. Use the one on the bus that brought you or hold it until your turn. Again, this is a home and garden, not a park system.
Stay on the garden path
An easy one, but it can be oh-so-tempting to wander from the obvious route. Just one foot placed into a garden bed to take a closer look. If your host worked for days to till and amend the soil, and weeks constructing a path, odds are he does not want another gardener walking and compacting on the soil. Even I do not walk on beds I have prepared. To see a visiting gardener leave a path to walk on a garden bed causes me to bite my pencil.
Do not point out weeds
Your host is more than likely very aware of every weed in their garden. My favorite weed has become Garlic mustard because of native plant nuts leaving a path and running through a bed to pull a plant. Very proudly they will walk back through the beds holding the offending weed out like a smiling child with a dandelion. They may have walked on several plants not up yet, but they got that weed for you. Unless invited to a weed-pulling party resist please and stay on the path. (Also see above.)
No snitching the garden goodies
Taking something from the garden without asking permission beforehand has a one-word definition. NO! Just a pinch, perhaps a small start, only a few seeds, could not possibly be missed. After all the host has so many. But, yes they probably will be missed. You may think a pinch or two from your garden is ok in another’s but perhaps your host propagates his own plants. After a tour was over and the bus left, I walked my garden to relax. A small perfectly square hole now existed where once a double-flowering Anemonella once resided. I hope that the little beauty performs well for them so they will be able to remember the flower as they burn in hell.
One final word of advice
A little thank you is always appreciated. A note card, an email, or a word at the end of the garden visit saying thank you can be quite special. The garden you visited could have taken much of a lifetime to create, entertaining you for a couple of hours. Gardeners love to share, but they also appreciate being told they “Did a good thing”.
The world I have created over the past 30-plus years is dissolving. The illusion of control called my garden is no more. The stamina, strength, and resolve are no longer so my garden cannot continue. After wandering about grieving over the past 4 or 5 years, I have finally arrived. All that remains is the spirit, the soul, and that is in a cocoon waiting to complete its metamorphosis.
Yew Dell Botanical Gardens will make another trip or two to complete harvesting the plants they desire from the garden. My dream children will find a good home where they can be cared for by plant lovers, admired by more gardeners than could ever see them here in another lifetime.
Always wrap up life with a gift of thank you.